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On building state capacity

Building state and government capacity, which will lead to the abolishment of tenders.

1. For a successful state that seeks to drive real economic and industrial development and provide better services, an inspired, skilled, and well-compensated public service is required. The public service should be strengthened for a sustainable transformation of the economy. The ethos of such a state should be developmental and very strong and, hence, consistent with anti-corruption measures. This is emphasised because the task of fundamental economic transformation requires a strong state with the ability to develop a clear strategic vision, and be able to implement and monitor the progress being made.

2. This should, essentially, be a state that has the capacity to marshal all progressive social forces in society, particularly the working class, towards developmental objectives. The state should build internal capacity to construct and maintain infrastructure such as roads, railways and dams and basic services such as schools, houses, hospitals and recreational facilities. The state’s dependence on tenders has massive political implications and often reduces the quality of work provided because of corruption and the corruptibility of the whole tendering system. In addition, the reliance on tenders limits the capacity of the state to directly industrialise the country by deliberately building value chains through direct state procurement.

3. The state’s capacity to perform these functions will entail that the public service and its servants be properly maintained, serviced and adequately remunerated at all levels. At the centre of a strong developmental state should be a motivated, inspired and well-remunerated public service that shares in the developmental vision of the country. These interventions should be coupled with an increased capacity to aggressively fight corruption and criminality within the state. The fight against corruption should not be a side issue, but a fundamental component of the state apparatus in order to increase public confidence in the state. In this context, the EFF will place a premium on strengthening the revolutionary trade union movement in the public sector, which should establish a practical and immediate bridge through which the working class exercises its power over the state apparatus.

4. A strong developmental state should necessarily have political power and technical capacity to give developmental mandates to state-owned enterprises (SOE) and private corporations. SOE and private sector compliance with the state’s developmental targets should not be voluntary, but a mandatory, crucial factor around which the state should be able to use a carrot-and-stick system to enforce. It can never be correct that the state operates only with the “hope” that the still colonial and foreign-owned, and thus unpatriotic, private sector, in particular, will voluntarily underwrite the developmental agenda and pursue the agenda of job creation, poverty reduction and sustainable development with the same vigour that should define government.

5. As concrete steps forward, which the state should initiate, establish and give strategic and financial support to, are the following:

a. A state housing-construction company.
b. A state roads-construction company.
c. A state cement company.
d. A state pharmaceutical company.
e. A state-owned mining company.
f. A state food-stocking company (to regulate prices of basic foodstuffs and guarantee food security for all).

6. These state companies will be buttressed by state ownership of critical parts of the value chains in which these companies operate, e.g. petrochemicals (Sasol), steel (Arcelor-Mittal), etc, so that they produce essential inputs into the economy on a non-profit-maximisation basis.

7. Within this context, the state will employ engineers, quantity surveyors, project managers, and builders for sustainable tasks. Their responsibilities will include the construction of houses, roads, bridges, sports facilities, dams, sewerage systems and more. These should be subjected to strict standards of quality assurance to ensure that, at all times, state-constructed entities are of good quality. State-owned companies will not be driven by principles of profit maximisation, but by the need to provide cheap and affordable services to the people and the economy at large.

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